What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety, or extreme apprehension and worry, is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations.

This type of steady, all-over anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Other anxiety-related disorders include panic attacks—severe episodes of anxiety which happen in response to specific triggers—and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is marked by persistent intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors (such as hand-washing).

Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males.

Generally, anxiety arises first, often during childhood. Evidence suggests that both biology and environment can contribute to the disorder. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, this does not make development of the condition inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also reset the body’s normal fear-processing system so that it is hyper-reactive to stress.

The exaggerated worries and expectations of negative outcomes in unknown situations that typify anxiety are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, and frequent urination. Behavioral therapies, with or without medication to control symptoms, have proved highly effective against anxiety, especially in children.

Recent posts on Anxiety

The Connection Between Migraines and Psychological Trauma

By Jean Kim M.D. on June 26, 2017 in Culture Shrink
Migraines may have a neurobiological connection to the same systemic pathways that affect trauma and mood, and can occur more frequently in people with a history of abuse.

How to Give to Others Without Burning Out

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 26, 2017 in Feeling It
Many of us feel burned out. Taking care of others seems like one more burden. Here are science-backed ways you can give to others, reap the benefits, and feel nourished too!

Rolling Back the Clock on Mental Health in our Country

The Senate health care bill could be disastrous for our country on multiple levels.

You Are More Than Your Emotional Pain: You Are a Person

When you are in emotional pain, do your best to resist defining yourself primarily by that pain which you carry within. You are a person of great worth. Try to see this.

A Simple Strategy to Help Worried Kids

The more parents say, “It’s fine. Don’t worry!” the more anxious kids demand, “But what if…?” Here's a way to help children use their imagination to manage worries.
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A Choose Your Own Adventure Guide to Building Relationships

We build our relationships upon the strengths and weaknesses of our parents, as well as our own. An exercise in discovering the challenges and the keys to overcoming them.

How to Approach Challenges with a Competitive Spirit

By Reid Wilson Ph.D. on June 23, 2017 in All about Anxiety
What is a ready-for-anything competitive spirit? It’s when we step forward with a point of view that says, “I have the skills to take on this challenge. I have a chance here.”

Mountain Lions Flee Political Talk While People Listen

Mountain lions flee from the voices of political opinionators, according to a study published on June 21. Consider the possible stress that may be inflicted on human listeners.

How Rejection Sensitivity Derails Relationships

By Juliana Breines Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in In Love and War
It’s common to have fears and insecurities about relationships, but sometimes these fears take on a life of their own and have destructive consequences.

Toxicity as a Stealth Teacher

By Kaja Perina on June 22, 2017 in Brainstorm
Nothing absolves bad actors, but shifting your focus from reactive to proactive and intentional allows you to master your own mind, which is all that you can ever control.

The Loneliness Epidemic and What We Can Do About It

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in Feeling It
Our need to feel special is may be feeding a loneliness crisis. Here's what we can do!

Death Is Inevitable but Not Inevitably Dreadful

In some circumstances, dying may be less awful than people think.

Seven Ways to Uplift a Friend (And Yourself) in Crisis

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 21, 2017 in Feeling It
How many times do we find ourselves with a friend who is going through a breakup, a loss, or another difficult life transition and find ourselves at a loss for what to do?

Anxiety as Depression Waiting to Happen

Why does anxiety often lead to depression, and even create further anxiety? This article provides an answer, and discusses a key factor in overcoming the comorbidity.

Laser Listening: Paying Attention from Inside Out, Part 3

Adam S. McHugh, author of The Listening Life, discusses the challenges and opportunities for introverts as listeners.

Teaching About Neo-Diversity Matters

Everywhere…nooses, swastikas, KKK rallies… around the nation. What is the stimulus for this intergroup tension in America? It’s rapid social change; it’s all about neo-diversity.

The 5 Defense Mechanisms That Can Sabotage Your Relationship

Defense mechanisms are a common way to manage anxiety, but they can get in the way of your close relationships. New research shows how to make your defense mechanisms work for you.

Why Is ASD Often Associated with Social Anxiety?

"We can say that all, if not most people diagnosed with ASD have remarkable issues with social interactions, however not all people on the spectrum end up with social anxiety."

The Anxiety Epidemic

Our smartphones may be a major cause.
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Nine Questions to Ask When Choosing a Rehab

If you have a loved one in need of addiction treatment, the time to act is now.

Baby Care: Baselines for Mental Health

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on June 18, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
For most babies, early experiences are undermining their short- and long-term mental (and physical) health.

Understanding Anger

Anger is often denied or suppressed but communication of anger can be productive and avoid development of destructive hostility, constant anxiety, and violence..

Comedy as Church

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on June 15, 2017 in Ambigamy
Comedy, like art or religion can be a chance for us to commune together in our unrequitable quest for relief from the messiness of life.

Learning Is a Key Component in Increasing Confidence

Empowering female artisans abroad increases confidence and decreases anxiety.

Three Habits Calm People Never Practice

Are you sick and tired of feeling stressed? Research explains the link between unhealthy mental habits and anxiety. Learn what to do instead.

Parent Mental Illness Casts Long Shadow on Children

Research reveals that parent mental illness can greatly impact children.

Performance Anxiety Is Often Transition Anxiety

By Michael Castleman M.A. on June 14, 2017 in All About Sex
Masturbation is easy, but partner sex is more challenging. When young lovers move from the former to the latter, their "performance anxiety" is often transition anxiety.

Wonder Woman to the Rescue

When the world is in chaos, who can set things right? (Cue music): Wonder Woman!!!

10 Ways to Cope With Life's Unpleasant Tasks

Life often presents us with tasks that we’d rather not have to tackle. When faced with the inevitable, new research suggests how to make the whole process that much easier.